If you’re a fan of branded shoes, you probably already have the answers by heart.
But if you’re not familiar with the history of Nike Air and Air Jordan (like me), then you might be feeling confused about the shared term “air.”
Is Nike Air and Air Jordan the same? If not, how are they different? Are they actually good shoes?
Here in this article, we have all of the answers for you.
We’ll save you some time and give you a quick answer first – No, Nike Air and Air Jordan are not the same.
Later, we will break it down into more details so you have a better insight on what each of these shoes have to offer.
They are both, however, Nike products.
The full name of Air Jordan is Nike’s Air Jordan, which sounds an awful lot like Nike Air, no?
So you might be shocked to hear that Nike Air and Air Jordan are actually kind of different.
For example, they were launched in different years, their technologies are different, and so their appearances vary too.
In the next few segments, we will be answering all of your doubts.
What Is Nike Air?
Nike Air was released by the corporate company Nike in the year 1987.
There are two main Nike Air lines you need to know:
1. Nike Air Max
2. Nike Air Zoom
1. Nike Air Max
Nike Air Max utilizes pressurized gas which is stored in elastic urethane pouches of the soles.
Most of these pouches are visible from the outside, making it not only recognizable from afar but also uniquely stylish like no other.
This was the very first line that came out of the Nike Air series, and, believe it or not, it started with an aerospace engineer’s idea in the ’70s!
- In 1977, former aerospace engineer Marion Franklin Rudy had an interesting idea. He suggested to put tiny airbags into the soles of shoes to reduce impact.
- In 1978, the Nike Tailwind was introduced. These are the first shoes to incorporate Air cushioning (but without having ‘Air’ in the name just yet).
- In the ’80s, researchers at the University of Tennessee had a groundbreaking discovery. Athletes who wore shoes with the Air technology used less energy compared to those who used conventional sports shoes.
- Building the hype, later in 1987, designer Tinker Hatfield introduced the Air Max 1, which kick-started many generations of Nike Air shoes to come.
Who usually wears Nike Air Max?
Air Max is suitable for everyone and anyone who is looking for comfort and low-impact strides.
They have designs suitable for running, playing basketball, or simply for casual walking.
Speaking of casual walking, ASICS is probably one of the hottest sneaker brands for that out there right now.
2. Nike Air Zoom
This series utilizes tightly stretched tensile fibers which are placed inside the pressurized gas pouches. All of these, in combination, give them a snappy and powerful cushioning effect.
The fibers allow the shoes to spring back to their original state every time the athlete touches down and compresses on the soles.
Even in my childhood, I have heard about this “springy” feature in shoes, but I never knew it first started out with Nike!
- In 1996, Nike released the Air Zoom Alpha for running athletes, as well as the Air Zoom Flight 96 for basketball players. This was the year of the USA Summer Olympics, which was the perfect opportunity to introduce the Zoom series tailored for athletes.
- In 1996, Nike also incorporated the Zoom fibers into Air Jordan 12, which was the first Air Jordan to ever have Zoom cushioning. It is now remembered as the shoes that MJ wore to the “Flu Game,” which brought the Bulls one step closer to the NBA Finals.
- For the next 20 years, Zoom would be incorporated into all of the Air Jordan series. This gives off the unique springy and bouncy feel.
- In recent years, Nike has also launched the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus series for the moderate runners, as well as the Air Zoom Alphafly for frequent, intense runners.
Who usually wears Nike Air Zoom?
What Is Air Jordan?
Now we talked a bit about how Zoom was first introduced into Air Jordan 12. Let’s go back in time a little bit and talk about this widely known line.
To call it a popular brand is an underestimation. It was a pop culture sensation in the ’90s.
Whether you’re a boomer, Gen X, or a millennial, you will know of this household name, the NBA legend—Michael Jordan, also known as MJ.
But how much do you know about the story of Air Jordan? Let’s put your knowledge to the test.
The original Air Jordan 1 did not have any specific technology that stood out the way Nike Air did.
But the new Air Jordan shoes now include all sorts of technology, including Nike Air Max and Nike Zoom Air.
What the AJ1 had instead was mythology and history.
- Peter Moore designed the first ever Air Jordan. Its red-and-black combination made it an effective storytelling tool for the Bulls team.
- MJ earned a $5,000 fine every single time he wore it to the court, because it went against the NBA’s uniform policy.
- Air Jordan was basically the forefather of sneaker culture.
- But did you know? Air Jordan also stirred up some controversy at the peak of its popularity. Some robberies and physical assaults actually happened in various school grounds, because school kids would fight each other just to get a hold of a pair of Air Jordans.
Ever since then, the popularity of Air Jordan never faded again.
Like we mentioned earlier, several generations of Air Jordan were associated with multiple iconic moments of the basketball legend.
1. Air Jordan 11 – Space Jams
If you’re an MJ fan, you probably would have known that MJ wore a pair of Air Jordan in the animated movie Space Jam in 1996.
However, these kicks were not released until 2000, and, due to its popularity, it was released again and nicknamed “Space Jams” in 2009.
The movie is available on Amazon Prime, so if you’re up for something fun and cheeky, this is the perfect story for you.
2. Air Jordan 12 – Flu Game
MJ was dealing with flu symptoms during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against Utah Jazz.
However, this was actually one of the biggest false NBA myths of all time! MJ did not have “the flu.”
It was later confirmed by MJ himself in the documentary The Last Dance to be food poisoning rather than flu.
When everyone thought all hope was lost, MJ worked his magic as usual and led the Bulls into the finals by scoring 38 points while wearing the Air Jordan 12.
And ever since then, this pair of sneakers has been remembered as the “Flu Game” Jordan.
The 10-part documentary, which stars MJ as himself, is available on Amazon Prime. I personally highly recommend this series as it was not only inspiring to watch but also just so nostalgic to experience.
3. Air Jordan 14 – The Last Shot
In the 1998 NBA Finals, MJ scored a winning final shot against Utah Jazz’s Bryon Russell, earning this pair the nickname “the Last Shot.”
Fun fact: there are 14 Jumpman logos (7 logos each) on the Jordan 14—that is, if you look carefully enough.
Who usually wears Air Jordan?
It was initially made for basketball players and basketball fans, as it incorporated the deep red and black colors of Chicago Bulls into all of its early designs.
However, over the years, just like the Nike Air series, they have evolved to accommodate more and more people using multiple innovative technology to appeal to a wider audience.
Nowadays, anyone who likes fashion and style can purchase a pair of Air Jordan and casually stroll down the mall.
What are the Differences Between Nike Air and Air Jordan?
We have been writing a lot about these two.
Let’s summarize what we understand in a table:
Are Nike Air Shoes Actually Good?
We have looked into people’s stories about their experiences with Nike Air shoes. Turns out, yes, Nike Air shoes are as good as advertised, and, unsurprisingly, each line is good for different reasons.
Generally, the quality of Nike lives up to its popularity. Their shoes have garnered a loyal fan base, with most, if not all, specifically praising their durability and comfort.
Nike Air Max
They are reputable as stylish casual wear, but we had a bigger question on our minds: Is Nike Air Max actually good for running? Our answer from our survey finds that, yes, it is good for running, but only for a short distance.
It was initially designed to be lightweight, which would make it suitable for running. However, most of the shoes in this series do not provide good enough cushioning for professional runners, especially the ones with heavier construction and a bulky midsole such as Nike Air Max 95.
We conclude, therefore, that, while Nike Air Max serves as a perfectly decent pair of walking shoes, there are more comfortable choices for those who are serious about running, such as the Nike Zoom Pegasus.
Nike Zoom Pegasus
The Nike Zoom Pegasus series is known for their comfortable midsoles, which make it many professional runners’ first choice. In fact, it was rated as the number one best running shoes by Run Repeat.
Differences between Nike Air and Air Jordan
|Parameters||Nike Air||Air Jordan|
|Year of release||1987||1985|
|History||Designed by Tinker Hatfield after aerospace engineer Marion Franklin Rudy introduced the idea of having tiny airbags into the soles of shoes||Created for the NBA legend Michael Jordan, which was endorsed and worn by the man himself in many iconic NBA matches|
|Technology||Pressurised gas stored in elastic urethane pouches of the soles||No specific technology initially, but it now incorporates all kinds of Nike technology such as Nike Air Max and Nike Air Zoom|
|Who wears them?||Everyone and anyone can wear them, as they are designed as athletic running shoes or just casual sneakers||It was initially designed for basketball players and fans alike but has now evolved to accommodate everyone|
Whether you’re a professional runner or a casual runner who wants to wear your running shoes daily, then the Pegasus series is a very good choice for you.
What Are Some of the Best Nike Air?
We will make it easier for you to make your purchasing decisions now.
#1 – Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
The Pegasus 38 has the super-soft React foam cushioning. This, coupled with the very bouncy Air Zoom in the forefoot, provides the ultimate comfort for runners and casual walkers alike.
The uppers are also incredibly comfortable and breathable as it is made of textile mesh.
So, while this is our number one choice for running shoes, you may find our other article about good walking shoes useful if you’re looking for something more casual.
#2 – Nike Air Max Flyknit Racer
This is the perfect pair of racing flats for all professional and casual runners alike.
The Phylon midsole, as well as the well-known Zoom Air pods, give it the classic springy Nike feel. It is therefore lightweight and ideal for bouncy liftoffs.
The Flyknit upper will make you feel like you’re wearing socks, and will not cause you any irritation when you run.
It is not only light, the airiness is also another bonus point, because it just means that you get to run in a cool and dry in-shoe environment.
Also, did we mention that the shoes were made using recycled materials? This is one of many of Nike’s Move to Zero attempts to make their products more sustainable.
#3 – Nike Air Max Plus
It is well under 350 grams, making it one of the lightest Nike shoes of all time.
The nickname “the Shark” is given to these kicks because of its midsole design which resembles a shark’s tail.
Functionally, the Max is super high-performing thanks to the pillar-like supportive air pockets and heel, coupled with a flexible forefoot.
While it is not fully waterproof, it is rather water-resistant, thanks to its high synthetic paneling and TPU toe cap. This also means that they are impervious to stains.
If you look at the design, you might think that the reflective detailing is only there for nighttime safety reasons, but the designer had more in his mind, as they also resemble wavering Florida palm trees.
Stylish, strong, and super high-performing, this series was way ahead of its time.
Are Air Jordan Shoes Actually Good?
If you know MJ, you will know that he could jump really, really high to perform his many iconic slam dunks. Air Jordan shoes were designed with this marketable point in mind, that Jordan shoes have air in their soles, that this air helps you jump a little higher because the shoes are now lighter, making their wearers feel a little closer to MJ.
While Nike never made any promises to Jordan wearers that they could jump as high as MJ, it did make us wonder, How good are Air Jordan shoes for normal people like you and me, really?
Turns out, they are really good-quality shoes and are not popular just because of MJ.
If you see someone walking down the streets wearing an Air Jordan 1, chances are, they are a huge basketball fan but don’t actually play.
But if you do see another person wearing newer generations of Air Jordan, then you are more likely to be looking at an actual basketball player.
Over the years, Jordan Air has evolved to incorporate more and more of Nike’s incredible technology, such as the Air and Zoom technology, which makes them more comfortable and durable than ever before.
What Are Some of the Best Air Jordan?
#1 – Air Jordan 1 Mid
The cushy Air technology is utilised in this rebranded Jordan 1, making it very comfortable for a full-day wear for casual walking.
With a thick rubber outsole, the Jordan 1 Mid is built to last.
Somewhere in between the ankle stability of the High and the flexibility of the Low comes the Mid that offers the best of both worlds.
The leather uppers also make it very easy to clean for rainy and muddy days.
To remember the very first Jordan that started it all, this revamped design is certainly stylish and strong enough for your daily walking needs.
#2 – Air Jordan XXXVI
While the 1 Mid is made for those who just want to have a pair of comfortable footwear, the XXXVI is built for the hoopers on the court. Its grip is super consistent and dependable.
Bounciness aside, it also has certain areas which can be very compressible to absorb any sort of impact, perfect for slam dunks.
Even though the uppers are very tight, which are made to give your feet a stable embrace, the materials are thin and highly breathable.
Some of you who have narrow feet may find it difficult to get a pair of kicks that stick, but this would be the perfect pair to make you feel safe.
#3 – Air Jordan 3 Retro
This one is made for the basketball players who prefer a snug fit and active impact absorption.
Its sole is sculpted with a Max Air unit at the heel, a polyurethane midsole, and an Air Sole unit at the forefoot. Couple that with a removable Durapontex sockliner that is anatomically correct, this unit guarantees the ultimate in-shoe comfort.
Having a mid-top collar makes it the perfect choice for players who wish to keep their ankles from any twisting or bending injuries.
As stylish as it looks, the materials of the coverings can be quite thick, making it unsuitable for those who are planning to play in warm environments for a prolonged period.
All in all, however, we would say this would be a good company for a basketball match.
Where Are Nike Shoes Made?
Many questions are being asked these days: Where are Nike shoes made? Are the workers properly taken care of?
Now that social media is booming, people have grown to be more and more wary of how big companies actually make their products.
While we are not sure what the working conditions for the workers are like, we have found the origins of our favorite Nike shoe.
Most of Nike shoes are actually made in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam—not the USA!
Of course, there are some Nike factories in the USA as well, but these are scarce in production compared to those in Asia.
Is this surprising to you? I bet not.
What Does "GS" Mean In Shoes?
You have probably noticed some abbreviations here and there in Nike shoes, or just shoes in general.
Some of these terms are general sneakers terminology, but some are specific to Nike.
For example, what does “GS” mean in shoes?
We’ll explain what each of these means.
GS – Grade School
These are shoes made in sizes suitable for children.
PS – Pre School
Compared to GS, these shoes come in smaller sizes.
TD – Toddler
The smallest of them all, these are made for babies to kids up to three years old.
OG – Original Gangster (now just “Original”)
You have probably used this abbreviation at some point before. Initially, it meant “original gangster,” but now it just means “original.” This refers to the initial silhouettes or original colorways that were released.
GG – Gradeschool Girls
Designed for grade school girls, these come in smaller sizes and feminine styles.
BG – Gradeschool Boys
Same as GG, but for boys.
GR – General Release
When a pair of kicks are made widely available to the public in retail stores, these are referred to as GR. Everyone can purchase these.
PRM – Premium
Nike made this term specifically for their shoes which are one level above the rest. Usually, this includes shoes that are made from high-quality materials and designed with delicate details.
OVO – October Very Own (Drake’s birth month!)
This is also Nike-specific. Drake’s record company made a collaboration with Nike, which released a series of sneakers in honor of the sensational Canadian rapper’s birth month.
PE – Player Exclusive
Simply put, these are shoes that were made for specific players only. In the early phase, these would not be available in the market. But over time, by popular demand, they have been released to the public.
Putting all of these stories, mythologies, and technological comparisons aside, it is no doubt at all that Nike has certainly lived up to its popularity with both the Nike Air and Air Jordan series.
In summary, Nike Air and Air Jordan are different lines of Nike shoes.
Air Jordan came first, then Nike Air followed suit.
Nike Air utilizes the gas-filled pouches to make their shoes lighter. While the original Air Jordan 1 did not have any specific technology, the newer generation Air Jordan shoes now utilizes the Nike Air and Nike Zoom technology.
Nike Air has different series, of which the Pegasus and Vaporfly series are especially good for long-distance and professional running, while the Air Max is better for casual wearers or some short-distance running.
Air Jordan was made for basketball players and fans alike initially, but they also come in different shapes and forms nowadays, offering good-looking sneakers which may also be worn for casual daily walks.
We hope that this article has been as informational and interesting to you as it was for us.